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Oregon referendum asks for $50M to update schools

In just over two weeks the Oregon School District will ask residents for more than $50 million on a referendum ballot.

This is the second time in the last two years the school district has put a referendum before voters. In 2012, a $33 million request failed. Now, school officials are asking for more: $54.6 million in one referendum question, and $355,864 a year starting in 2015 in the second question.

That money would go toward goals like updating security at several school entrances, addressing a roofing problem and increasing the size of school hallways and classrooms as enrollment grows.

School officials said they're asking for more so more of their students see results.

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Budget plan: slight increase, more roadwork

A slight increase in taxes and a bigger increase in road construction are among the notable items in the preliminary Oregon village budget.

The owner of an average-value home in Oregon would face an estimated $17.39 increase in the village portion of the property tax bill next year, similar to last year’s increase. That means the owner of a $220,000 home would pay $1,206.81 for the village portion of 2014 property taxes, vs. $1,189.42 in 2013.

On average, however, home values here increased 1.46 percent in the past year. A home that had been valued at $211,000 in 2013 is worth $220,000 this year... Read More

Early voting begins statewide

Voters headed to clerk's offices to vote Monday, just two weeks before Election Day.

In-person absentee voting started statewide Monday morning, but in some places, like Madison, voters will see more limited hours than in the past.

Clerks reported steady turnout in many municipalities on the first day of early voting. Those who want to vote early in person can do so until Oct. 31 during the week.

Many voters said Monday they were stopping in early because they had too much to do on Election Day.

?I just seem to be backed up with so many things to do and cover and I only have one pair of hands and so much time," said Janice Hiller, who voted early Monday in Oregon. "I decided I would take advantage of this quiet time."

"I work that day and I wouldn't get to the polls otherwise," said Paul Weber, who voted early in Madison. "I came down to vote now; otherwise I wouldn't vote."

OSD: ‘A lot of bang for the buck’

Decision day on Nov. 4 for a pair of school district referendums, school board members have been busy talking with community members and making their final pitch for the district’s $54.6 million upgrade plan. 

Members who spoke with the Observer – all of whom voted in favor of putting it on the ballot – said the measures will enhance the community. They say it will bring needed improvements to the schools while making the district – and in turn, Oregon – a more desirable destination for young families. ... Read More

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Oregon-Fitchburg rail line gets reactivated

Freight trains will begin operating this month on the rail line that runs through Fitchburg. It will be the first time since 1997 that a freight hauler has used the line.

The Common Council on Sept. 23 approved a temporary licensing agreement with Wisconsin & Southern Railroad so the company can begin using the rail line this fall.

The line is being activated so that Lycon Inc., which last year built a Ready Mix Concrete plant in Oregon’s Alpine Business Park, can get deliveries of aggregate via rail as opposed to large over-the-road trucks... Read More

Most area districts get increase in aid; Middleton gets 7th largest cut

Most area school districts will receive a small increase in general state aid, but the Middleton-Cross Plains School District will get the seventh biggest cut in the state, according to a release.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released the Oct. 15 certified amount each school district will receive from the $4.476 billion available under current law for general state aid.

General state aid for school districts increased by $94.4 million from last year, but the actual amount of aid that the state?s 424 public school districts will receive is $85.5 million more than last school year, according to the release. That is due to statutory reductions to general state aid for private voucher schools in Milwaukee and independent charter schools supported by state tax dollars.

Oregon plans to split OWI task force

Oregon’s high-visibility drunken-driving patrol this year was successful enough that the village is already making plans to continue with the program.

But rather than one overwhelming show of force, Oregon likely will have two smaller patrols next year... Read More